[The Listserve] Jack of All Trades, Master of None
Hey Listserv Readers –
My name is Claire Brooks and I am a creative producer from NYC.
What does a producer do exactly? Good question – I’m not always sure and I’ve been doing this for 6 years. Most days, it feels like a bit of everything. A good tag line for most Producers would be "Jack of all Trades and Master of None."
The role of the producer varies by field. I’ve worked as an experiential producer, a digital producer, and a commercial producer. I’ve also produced a few short films. Yet, no matter how big the budget, a toilet will break somewhere, at some point, and become my problem to deal with. This is why I don’t trust a producer who can’t plunge a toilet and close deals at the same time.
Producing requires a sense of humor and humility. An easily bruised ego is a useless attribute for a producer. This is because producing is a service occupation. As a producer, I am in service to my clients, my creative team, my staff and my employees. At the very least, I am in service to myself.
By upholding a high standard of excellence while on production, I can make a tough day manageable, maybe even pleasant, for my colleagues. Trust me, I don’t like working brutal 14-hour days, out in the field, with only crap catering to sustain me either. If you think feeding subway sandwiches and pizza to your hardworking crew day after day is okay, then you’re not a bad producer, you’re a bad person.
As a producer, I live by one simple guiding principle: Treat people well and with respect. I wish all producers felt the same.
I appreciate that my job is to ensure a safe and collaborative working environment so that we can deliver a stellar project on time and under budget. I love creating spaces where people (myself included) can do their best work. And in most producing scenarios, something that can go wrong, will go wrong. In good news, I also enjoy being the person tasked with quick problem solving. This way, we can stay on track and do whatever big crazy creative thing we set out to do in the first place.
As a producer, I hold the most responsibility for the project and I enjoy that. The contracts are in my company’s name so if anyone’s getting sued, it’s me. If the cops show up to check our compliance with the permits – it’s me they’re talking to. When something goes wrong (which it will), I’m the one getting yelled at by a pissed off property owner, angry neighbor, or frustrated celeb.
This has never bothered me. I’ve always known that big risks come with big rewards. Also, the perks! Once, a sponsor gifted me a 6 month supply of wine. Even my apartment is largely decorated with freebies from various productions. I can’t even recall the last time I paid for a sweatshirt because I get so many for free. #SwagIsLife
It’s been a wild ride and a career that’s taken me from NYC to London to Los Angeles and back to NYC again. I have no family or inside connections to this industry. My entire career has been strategically and meticulously designed by me starting back when I was 16.
I am humbled to think of my own upbringing. How did a girl from a small housing projects deep in Queens, raised by two very young but loving parents, end up in the places I have? From an inner city NYC public school to a fancy New England private boarding school and from a cramped dark apartment in Flushing, Queens to treehouse-like sanctuary in Santa Monica... It's been quite the ride.
Now, I’m on the next leg of my journey. I recently started my MFA at Columbia University with the aim of transitioning from advertising to Film & TV. I would love to share this ride with anyone that’s interested!
So if you're reading this and want to shoot me a question via email, please do. I’ll will respond with either a blog / vlog to your question. It can be about anything, seriously! Some ideas: Living and working abroad, grad school, MFA programs, the advertising industry, Hollywood, creative entrepreneurship / stewardship, embarking on your own creative career, and etc. Or maybe you just want to tell me about your favorite TV shows, a movie I should watch, or get my recommendation for something I think you should check out. It's all fair game to me!
(And an extra special thank you / shout out to my friend Jono for introducing me to the listserv. It took almost 6 years, but I finally won the lottery! Love ya!)
New York City
Executive Producer | SuperSwell
Columbia University | MFA Creative Producing
Follow me on IG: @theinsatiablelife | @clairewhichproject